Shep Hyken knows a thing or two about creating amazing customer experiences. As a customer service / experience expert, hall of fame speaker, and bestselling author, Shep will be the first person to tell you about the one thing you can do to guarantee that your customers come back and do business with you. “It’s more than just delivering amazing customer service,” he says. “It’s delivering amazing personalized customer service.”
To achieve this, businesses must take customer engagement to a higher level, which, in its simplest form, may be using the customer’s name each time you greet them. But some companies, having recognized the promising implications of personalized service, are finding new and improved ways to exceed customer expectations.
Take, for example, Shep’s experience at the Kimpton Muse hotel, in New York, where he stayed during a business trip. When he checked in, the front desk team went out of their way to build a rapport with him. They asked him questions about possible dinner reservations he might wish to make, as well as inquiring about his favorite foods, and more.They also took note that he planned to stay two days beyond the business meetings he was staying for because his wife would be joining him.
The night Shep’s wife arrived, the hotel sent up a bottle of wine, with some fruit and chocolate. But they took their service a step further by including a small picture frame with a photo of Shep and his wife. Needless to say, the customer service expert was blown away by the personal attention and customized experience the staff had provided for him.
Customers Expect Personalized Service
According to Small Business Trends, a study of 3,000 consumers in the U.S. and the U.K revealed that more than 70% of people say they expect personalized experiences when they interact with brands. Furthermore, American consumers, in particular, have even higher customer service demands for businesses, expecting personalization regardless of whether they’re dealing with an eCommerce company or a brick and mortar business.
“Connected customers want to be heard, understood, remembered, and respected,” indicates the Small Business Trends article. “Ultimately, they want to be treated like people — and smarter applications of customer data can help companies deliver experiences with a human touch, at scale.”
Sadly, less than 10% of “top retailers” believe their current [customer service] strategies are effective and about 48% of marketers know personalization leads to more sales, but they struggle to use it effectively.
3 Benefits of Personalizing Customer Service
- Personalized customer service boosts revenue – According to Fivestars, a recent study indicated that 66% of consumers believed customer service to be the biggest spending motivator. Additionally, companies that prioritized the customer experience generated 60% higher profits than their competitors.
- Personalization shows customer you care – Customers who receive personalized service will remember the experience. In fact, Fivestars cites one study that revealed how 76% of consumers feel that customer service demonstrates how a business values them. Consistently offering personalized service sets a standard of care that customers appreciate and come to associate with your brand.
- Personalized customer service sets you apart – As you know, today’s consumers have a vast amount of shopping options available to them. But personalized service is an effective way to set your business apart from your competitors. While you may not be able to control the size of your competitors or the prices they offer, you can control the kind of service that you offer. Superior customer service is often enough to persuade many consumers to shop with you instead of your competitors. In fact, research statistics found on Fivestars indicate that 55% of consumers will pay more for a product if they receive better customer service during / following a purchase.
8 Ways You Can Offer Personalized Customer Service
Fivestars offers the following ideas that will transform typical customer service into personalized customer experiences:
- Call customers by name – It may sound simple, but this small gesture packs a powerful punch. That’s why companies like Starbucks go out of their way to call their customers by name. It makes the customer’s experience more memorable and helps to build trust and lasting relationships. The importance of this simple gesture can’t be underestimated when you consider that 68% of customers will stop shopping at a business if they feel the company is indifferent towards them.
- Reward loyal customers – Consider offering repeat customers a spontaneous discount in appreciation for their continued business. If you’re a coffee shop, for example, you could offer a free cup of coffee and say, “Thanks for being a loyal customer. Your drink is on the house today.” This shows customers you’re aware of, and grateful for, their continued loyalty. Additionally, you might consider implementing a customer loyalty program. 81% consumers are more likely to continue doing business with brands that offer loyalty programs and 73% of loyalty member participants are more likely to recommend brands that offer good loyalty programs.
- Send handwritten notes to repeat customers & VIPs – Mail handwritten notes of appreciation to your VIPs several times a year, along with signed greeting cards for customer birthdays. Taking the time to draft personal, handwritten notes to your customers will demonstrate that you care about them and value their loyalty.
- Reward customers for sharing feedback – Ask customers to share feedback on their experiences—good or bad—to help you improve products, services, and customer satisfaction. A whopping 97% of consumers are more likely to be loyal to a company that implements their feedback. Reward customers for feedback that results in positive changes, and mention their contribution on social media or your website. You can take this to a higher level by sending them a personal thank you note with a gift certificate.
- Send some business love your customers’ way – Do your customers own a business? If so, make an effort to visit their establishment and use their products and/or services. By so doing, you can create a network of support with the business owners you meet and associate with.
- Educate & Entertain customers with classes, demonstrations, or other fun events – Personalized service should include teaching customers new knowledge and skills. Offer classes, workshops, webinars, and other events that will add value to your customers’ lives. Bakeries, for example, could offer a free tasting night, including a demonstration on how to create a delectable dessert.
- Spoil your VIPs – Interact with customers and get to know their interests by hosting an after-hours shopping night for VIPs. Serve refreshments and offer a special discount or other store perks.
- Spotlight your customers – Feature a loyal customer each month on your website, social media page, or in your store. This is an easy way to recognize the people who contribute to your business’s success.
“No matter what business you’re in, says CustomerTHINK, “…In the final analysis, every business is a people business.” That’s why stellar customer service plays a crucial role in customer retention and financial success.
Use the tips above to help you show customers how much you care, as well as set your business apart from the competition, and boost store revenue.
As Shep Hyken suggested, delivering amazing personalized service is the one thing you can do to guarantee that your customers will come back and do business with you again and again.